University of Calgary

Engineering projects, friendships await Calgary students in China

UToday HomeApril 10, 2013

Venki Lakshmanan, left, and Jessica Lam are among 18 students from the University of Calgary taking part in this year’s Shantou Global Leadership and Innovation Program.Venki Lakshmanan, left, and Jessica Lam are among 18 students from the University of Calgary taking part in this year’s Shantou Global Leadership and Innovation Program. Photo by Riley BrandtA group of 18 accomplished students from the Schulich School of Engineering will get the “educational experience of a lifetime” when they head to China on May 1 to study alongside students at Shantou University as part of the Shantou Global Leadership and Innovation Program.

Venkatachalam (Venki) Lakshmanan, a chemical engineering student and reservoir engineering intern with Gaffney, Cline and Associates, is excited about the adventure in Shantou, a key port in Southern China.

“I am going to a country I have never been to, trying to learn a language I have never spoken and working with students who I have never met,” says Lakshmanan, who is active in the university’s Petroleum and Energy Society and Residence Students’ Association.

The Schulich students will take classes six days a week for five weeks, go on the occasional field trip and maybe even shoot some hoops with their new Chinese classmates. “Shantou University students love playing basketball, and that is something I am excited about as I am an avid basketball player myself,” says Lakshmanan.

Jessica Lam, a fourth-year civil engineering student with a specialization in energy and environment, who is also president of Engineers without Borders- University of Calgary, is looking forward to her first trip to China.

“It is an excellent cross-cultural learning opportunity,” she says. “China will soon be the economic centre of the world and this trip is a huge opportunity to learn about how they do business and interact with people.”

Lam, who is interested in international development, says she’s looking forward to seeing “on the ground” how China has “moved a vast number of people out of poverty in a very short time scale.”

The students will work on five joint projects. One will involve the formation of a commercial start-up company for a consumer product involving solar-photovoltaic energy. The other four projects — each one week in duration — will involve fabrication and testing of a solar-photovoltaic cell, a wind turbine, an energy storage system and a solar water heater.

Schulich’s chair in Engineering Education Innovation, Ron Hugo, says Shantou University — which was founded by Husky Energy’s majority shareholder Li Ka-Shing in 1981 — is considered a leader in education reform in China.

Lakshmanan says he hopes to build lasting friendships with students from Shantou “and possibly host them in Canada if they decide to come to Calgary … Stampede possibly? I sure hope so.”

 

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